12 Step Rehabs Success Story Hayley W

6 months clean and sober – A true story – Haley W – 12 Step Rehabs client

We often confuse the idea of surrendering with being defeated, but does this really apply to all cases and scenarios in life? The answer is definitely not. We sometimes hold onto feelings, habits, and characteristics that are no longer serving us, usually because of the familiarity we have with them. This can also apply to holding onto misery, negative emotions, isolation, pain, and depression. We choose to hold onto what keeps us stuck in our lowest point because we are creatures of habit, and that includes habitual thinking.

In my case, I can say that holding onto my addiction or alcoholism seemed to be much easier than putting in the work that needed to be done in its place. Surrendering, in my understanding, initially felt like defeat until I finally came to realize that in this journey, surrendering meant winning a second chance in life to become a better version of myself. Something I resisted for the longest time and chose instead to fall into self-victimization and self-pity. But don’t we all deserve to be winners of the life we deserve after all?

How it Started

My journey with alcoholism started at a fairly young age. Like many young people, my drinking began as an experiment and then evolved into a social activity I shared with friends. I was in my early teens at the time, and alcohol began to be available at parties and social events I attended. I wouldn’t really say that I drank to fit in; maybe more that I enjoyed the effect and confidence boost that came with it. It made me the life of the party and all the insecurities I had about myself seemed to have disappeared while creating the delusion of being social, fun, and confident. However, compared to those around me, I also somehow found myself in the “drinking until you drop” category. Alcohol was my best friend until it became my worst enemy. I believed I was in control of it all when what was happening was that it was slowly taking full control over me and almost had me locked in a cage for as long as I could remember. Although I was somewhat aware that things were falling apart, I was in love with the ability to numb my feelings, emotions, and weaknesses, and hide my vulnerability. I just simply relied on it mentally and allowed it to become my identity as it made me feel superior to others.


I denied having a problem with alcohol until my life began to unravel and became unmanageable. I always managed to find some excuse to not take responsibility. People, past trauma, childhood, and the lack of attention I got growing up. I always managed to find something else to blame it on. After all, I needed anything else but myself to blame, handing myself over to a bottle that managed to take me away from myself. The language of denial seemed to be the easiest way out in this case. Not letting myself face reality, because it would hurt. I thought I would be protecting myself, and I was not ready to cope with the truth no matter how much anyone tried saying it to me.

Progression and Loss of Control

The progression of my addiction to alcohol led to isolated and lonely drinking on a daily basis, no matter where I was or if there was something to celebrate or not. In addition to experimenting with different types of drugs that can alter my state of mind, unfortunately, that led to the ability to use my full potential to be almost impossible. I was even lonely no matter how many people I was surrounded by. As for the nature aspect of it, my alcoholism succeeded at affecting me both mentally and physically. It worked its way up in the most subtle and sneaky way possible to gain full control over both my life and me. I began to feel abandoned by everyone when the truth was it was me who was abandoning people because of my behaviours. Yet with all that being said, it was extremely hard for me to understand that only complete abstinence from all mind-altering substances for the rest of my life is what is required for a disease like mine to be put in place.

First Time in Rehab

My first attempt to seek treatment after failing to control the use of massive amounts on my own came with the goal of moderating my drinking and becoming like those who had what seemed to be a life under control, rather than complete abstinence and surrender. Taking place in late 2021 in Spain, the rehab I attended tailors a personalized treatment for each client depending on the case and the needs of each one. After my assessment, I was presented with the suggested plan that consisted of 60 days of residential treatment whereby I would be fully abstinent from anything I was consuming at the time, medically detoxing for the first 2 weeks, and attending different workshops offered in-house, etc. The experience as a whole was very new to me as it was the first time being away from drinking and occasional drugging for that long in at least 7 years.

I decided I was ready to put in the work required wholeheartedly while being there, and I did not try breaking any rules when it came to not using/drinking in those 60 days. However, what always concerned me during this experience was my ability to maintain sobriety after treatment or to moderate my drinking, as this was my initial goal. Finally, I completed my treatment successfully and was sent back into the real world unsupervised. It was a bit of a scary feeling, to be honest, as I didn’t want to ruin the work I had done through my time in treatment, yet on the other hand, there was a beast in my head that repeatedly wanted to be unleashed.


With day-to-day challenges, my relapse didn’t take longer than 3 weeks to happen, and my “bender” managed to last approximately 2 years! However, that does not belittle any of the work I put in or what I was taught, but it says one thing for certain: you can never turn a pickle back into a cucumber! Attempting to stop on my own felt physically and mentally nearly impossible and circumstances seemed to worsen in every aspect of my life. I even decided to relocate geographically from my base at the time, and after doing that for almost a year of moving from one place to another around Europe, it became very clear that I managed to pack my disease and misery with me everywhere I went. It was my insanity telling me that the problem was the environment, country or people I was surrounded by, and that became my excuse for jumping from one place to another.

Further Progression of My Addiction

My continuous drinking and failure to manage my life diminished the person I am in my own eyes, which led to a very poor quality of life in extreme darkness, zero purpose, and a lack of self-worth. I had an extreme fear of the future that I continuously needed to numb and medicate. At this point, death seemed to be all I wanted as I was unable to carry that baggage of guilt, shame, and fear any longer. Although I gained some confidence from my initial period of abstinence, I never imagined that my addiction could lead me to a place even worse than the one I was in before, but it seemed to have been progressing even during my abstinence and possibly wanted me dead. I lost hope and was never able to see anything but a dead end in front of me, which led to trying to take my own life in the summer of 2023, but I guess the big guy up there had plans that I was unable to see for myself at the time, and here I am writing a glimpse of my story instead.

Surrender and Determination

After finally putting my foot down, letting go of my pride, and making multiple attempts to seek help from my mother, I came across 12 Step Rehabs website, which was initially recommended to us by a family friend. I proceeded to consult with the counsellors and consultants, Brett, who took me through a brief assessment to learn more about my case. I cannot begin to express the attentiveness and compassion I have received from this man. Brett is indeed a well-experienced professional who has guided me through the process from the beginning of my consultation with him until check-in, as well as providing aftercare follow-up.

Before starting this journey of my second attempt at treatment in Bali, I had absolutely no idea what 12-step recovery, Alcoholics Anonymous, or Narcotics Anonymous was or meant. But at this point, I was willing to do anything I was asked to stand on my feet again, so my level of desperation disregarded the name given to everything, and my soul completely surrendered to anything that needed to be done with minimal questions asked.

1st Week in Rehab

Following my detox, I was provided with further material to start writing the 12 steps with my recovery coach. The material consisted of a guidebook explaining all the steps, and a list of questions that belonged to each one. I remember feeling very overwhelmed having to be confronted with my past and character defects / negative character traits, having to write it on paper, and sharing it out loud. It felt extremely confrontational, and uncomfortable, and required me to be vulnerable. I didn’t understand that I needed to discover what lies within in order to move forward, it all just seemed too much at first. Attending 4 Alcoholic & Narcotics Anonymous meetings a week was also a mandatory part of the structure that the rehab had set in place. I remember planning my excuse the day before, as to why I could not attend the meeting that day. Mainly because it required sharing with complete strangers and being vulnerable. Something I am not very good at. I started by listening to other people’s stories in the rooms and taking the message from each one. At first, I was always looking for the differences rather than the similarities in those messages. I was still resisting admitting my powerlessness over alcohol as I was resisting starting the step work. In the second week, my step work material was given to me. My recovery coach was no longer patient and was pushing me to get started. I finally thought to myself, that my resistance would just be defeating the purpose of why I was here. So, I decided to give it a go. As they say, you can only recover if you find out what you are recovering from.

Acceptance of My Condition

For those who do not know, the first step in recovery is admitting your powerlessness over whatever substance you have been using and that your life has become unmanageable. Although I was the definition of both, the order of those deep questions I was going through seemed a little too much to put on paper. Too confrontational and uncomfortable for my liking of course. However, given I had nothing to lose, I went on and got it done without fearing the judgment of when I had to share it with my recovery coach. I must say, reflecting back on everything in detail was a little painful until it seemed like a relief from the self-created mental prison where I had been locked in the first place.  I came to realize that what I needed more than abstinence was to find out why I was drinking, and to do that I needed to unravel everything and face myself through working each step of the program. Through the process of writing my steps came an overwhelming feeling of freedom and liberation, a spiritual connection, and a realization that I no longer need to be running my own show. Only at this point was I finally willing to be the passenger rather than the driver on this ride, as I already saw where it took me when I was trying to do otherwise. Only then did I completely surrender, and let go of trying to control everything my way. Yes, it does take a lot of courage, work, and confrontation with the past. But it’s also the first step into a future filled with hope, strength, and serenity.

A New Way of Life

This gift of recovery in particular is what made my second rehab experience unique. Treatment and recovery together complemented each other perfectly. While rehab was an essential first step that I took towards my new sober journey in life by receiving structure and addressing my problem, it became clear that I needed the 12 steps of recovery and use all its tools to maintain my sobriety when I returned to the ‘real’ world again. Being a part of this program gives me a solid foundation to transition back into everyday life, allowing me to stay connected with a fellowship of like-minded men and women who are on the path of recovery worldwide. An increased chance of maintaining my sobriety, having a sponsor, continued growth, self-development, and most importantly a spiritual connection. I was given a map to follow through the program, and a God of my own understanding made the journey even sweeter.

6 months in

With 6 months of sobriety, I have come to discover that vulnerability is not a weakness but indeed a strength. Today I can say that I am finally beginning to see pieces of the person I am meant to be in this life before my alcoholism took the best of me. I am a person filled with hope, strength, resilience, and purpose. This realization empowers me to continue the rest of the beginning of my journey in recovery knowing that I am not alone through any ups and downs that may come my way.

By surrendering to a higher power and acknowledging my powerlessness over alcohol, I only gained. I am continuously addressing the mental, physical, and spiritual side of my addiction, whereas I could have never done that without full abstinence. I am learning and developing new coping mechanisms and have been given tools to live by. What is even more beautiful is that I can also pass all this experience, strength, and hope… on to the next sufferer. Following my treatment, and the beautiful gift of recovery which I was given. I decided to stay in Bali for a little while longer. In addition to having an insanely great fellowship with Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous, I fell in love with the island, the people, and the culture itself. 


Last, but not least, I would like to specifically thank Brett from 12 Step Rehabs for putting me on the path to a true second chance in life and introducing me to a new way of living that I never imagined to ever have. From the useless Alcoholic, I was, now I have become a person who can finally pursue a life worth living, a career, maybe a new base and much more. Today my goal is very simple; to be better than yesterday. 

For anyone still struggling and reading this, it’s time to break free and take control of your destiny. Real change often occurs outside of our comfort zones. Despite the initial challenges, we all deserve to reclaim our lives and strive for genuine happiness, rather than settling for mere existence. If it has worked for me and many others like myself, it may also work for you.

The journey towards a more fulfilling life isn’t always straightforward, and setbacks are inevitable. Yet, it’s precisely through these trials that we cultivate resilience and deepen our understanding of ourselves.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *